Hand Lettering by Thy Doan Graves – Yes you should!

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Are you a victim of impulse buying? The stores that hold the greatest temptation for me to buy on a whim are stationery / office supply stores (like Staples), craft stores (like Michaels), and art supply outlets (like our local Opus store).

Often I regret these on-the-spot decisions but occasionally I don’t. That turned out to be the case when, on browsing the offering of art books at Opus, I ran across Thy Doan Graves’ book Hand Lettering – Creative Alphabets for Any Occasion. It captured me when I first leafed through it as not only beautiful but probably useful and imagination sparking. I bought it and now, almost four years later, I still lose myself in its pages.

The book begins with a section titled “Tools, Materials and Techniques.” This section includes an analysis of the parts of a letter, information on spacing and composition, letter embellishment, and many stunning examples.

A “Directory of Alphabets,” made up of 50 different alphabet lettering styles, follows. From simple to ornate, traditional to modern,  serif or sans serif—you’ll find some of every type here. Opposite alphabets with only an upper case design are lined pages titled “Your Turn,” inviting you to design alphabet styles of your own.

Letters are presented on a lined background, upper and lower case (where there is a lower case), with hints for letter formation in the sidebars.
Blank page opposite alphabets with no lower case for reader-designed alphabets.

Especially fun are the contributing artist-designed graphic alphabets—inspired by space, automobiles, buildings, flowers, animals, food, monsters, and fantasy creatures.

Food Alphabet designed by Olga Zakharova. Isn’t this fun!

Since I bought it in 2017 I’ve used this book a lot—marked my favorite styles with paper clips and browsed its contents for lettering ideas, designs, and embellishments useful in card-making, art journaling, and designing art that contains lettering. I would say that giving in to the impulse to buy this book was a wonderful capitulation. If you’re into hand-lettering, I’m sure you’d love it too

Welcome September!

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Happy September! I’ve kept my promise and given my blog a summer break. Now summer is all but over—hard to believe but that’s what the calendar and the shrinking hours of daylight say—and it’s back to more regular posts here. I’ll try for weekly.

Though the summer was a quiet one due to continuing Covid restrictions, it did have a couple of highlights.

July 7, 2021: The Word Awards 2021 Short List was published. I was thrilled to find Under the Cloud listed in the Historical Fiction category. Winners will be announced on September 25th

– Early August: Hubby and I took our annual road trip to visit family. Driving to Kelowna and from there to Dawson Creek, we went through many smoky patches, raising our awareness of the many wildfires raging in B.C.’s interior. Fortunately, we experienced smooth driving both coming and going (with fewer RVs on the road than ever). Of course we heaved sighs of relief to be home when we heard of the Pine Pass  closure (a stretch of Highway 97 between MacKenzie and Chetwynd) the day after we arrived home, due to a new wildfire in that area.

On the home front we’ve been behaving ourselves, going for daily walks, eating our veggies, with only a Sunday night ice-cream binge to excite the bathroom scales.  With the vaccines available, things are opening up a bit (or they were before the fourth wave of Covid hit). It’s wonderful to be back in church in person!

Summer reading included:

  • Suncatchers by Jamie Langston Turner, a lovely but slow-moving story.
  • “Starving” to Successful by Jason Horejs about artists and the art gallery business—very informative, practical, & helpful.
  • Poldark (the first book in the series by Winston Graham, on which the TV series Poldark is based—a very sticky read… could hardly put it down.

I’ve kept my Etsy shop open throughout most of the summer and stocked with new cards. Believe it or not, I’m now working on Christmas!

Throughout the summer I have also added to my series of wild berry paintings. I started out with a painting of blackberries last summer. Since then I’ve created a few more. Here are some. All are for sale (unframed), except for the “Blackberry Time.”  Email me if you’re interested.

So, now it’s welcome Fall! I’m expecting the autumn will hold more of the same for me. I hope your summer was safe and healthy. Any exciting projects in the works for you?

The Watercolor Flower Artist’s Bible – Review

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The Watercolor Flower Artist’s Bible: An Essential Reference for the Practicing Artist by Claire Waite Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


My newest art book is the gorgeous Watercolor Flower Artist’s Bible: An Essential Reference for the Practicing Artist, edited by Claire Waite Brown.

This is quite a comprehensive volume. It starts out with a section on watercolor supplies and explains the most common techniques watercolorists use. Several tutorials encourage practice with these, e.g. “Combining wet-in-wet and wet-on-dry,” “Using Masking Fluid” and more.

An analysis of flower shapes follows. Here the text explains the look and structure of the various flower shapes (like bell, trumpet, cup and bowl, etc.—eight in all), delving into how they appear foreshortened and reflect light from different angles. Of course a real flower example is used in each case. (For example, in the trumpet section, a Daffodil is the example).

A Directory of Flowers section follows that. In this part you find a picture of each flower and a link to the instructions on how to paint.

You can also find flowers by color in the colored garden section that follows the directory (“The Red Garden,” “The Pink Garden,” “The Yellow Garden,” etc.) that ends with “Berries and Leaves.” Each garden color chapter is introduced with watercolor paintings by accomplished artists. These are followed by details of specific flowers in the color family and include color swatches of the particular flower’s blooms and instructions on how to draw and paint one example.

To help you even further in finding the flower you want to attempt, you can go to the comprehensive Index at the back, where each flower is listed (alphabetically) and linked (in the Kindle edition) to its page in the book.

This book is chock-full of information and tips. However, my favorite aspect of it so far is the artists’ paintings that begin each colored garden and are sprinkled in other spots throughout. Talk about eye candy and inspiration to improve!

I purchased the Kindle edition of the book, which I read on my iPad. It’s easy to use propped on my desk during painting sessions with no need to fight stubborn book binding. Also I can enlarge the images to my heart’s content.

I’m sure this book will be one of my most used painting references in the months ahead.






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